Belgrade is the lively and historic capital city of Serbia. It’s fast becoming an alternative destination to visit in Europe, particularly as the surrounding countries of the Balkans become ever popular with travelers seeking out a more untouched side of the continent.
There is good reason for this increasing popularity too, as from the ashes of conflict in the 1990’s, from NATO bombings in Belgrade and war across the region, the city has recovered, it’s grown and it has a lot to offer visitors adventurous enough to give it a chance.
There are some great Belgrade tourist attractions, from visiting the domineering towers of Kalemegdan Fortress to learning more about not only the history of Serbia but the history of the former Yugoslavia that is so entwined with the region.
Explore the surprisingly sandy beaches of the lake, visit an ornate Serbian Orthodox Church and then soak up the vibrant nightlife in the evenings.
To inspire you to visit the city, here’s our ultimate guide to Belgrade.
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How to get to Belgrade
Belgrade is beautifully sited on the confluence of the Danube and the Sava Rivers in the north of Serbia. Being the former capital of Yugoslavia, the city still retains its transport links to the surrounding Balkan countries and it’s easy to travel here from the rest of the region.
The main Belgrade train station is a new construction and is found on the outskirts of the city as the old and outdated central station was recently closed. The upgrades have allowed for a much more efficient railway system connecting Belgrade to cities domestically and internationally.
From here you can travel by train to Budapest, Ljubljana, Sofia, Zagreb, Vienna and more, and it’s even possible to connect onto the wider European rail network to reach more distant cities such as Paris or London.
The bus network is equally as extensive and long-distance routes connect Belgrade to many major European capitals, particularly in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, as well as domestically to towns and other cities across Serbia.
If you need to fly into Belgrade, then the Nikola Tesla International Airport has extensive flight schedules across Europe to almost all of the continent’s capital cities, while flights with Middle Eastern airlines allow you to connect to much of the rest of the world too.
How to get around Belgrade
Belgrade is a large city with over a million inhabitants and there are many suburbs and districts to navigate.
The city operates a network of trolleybuses, trams, and public buses that cover much of Belgrade, but you must remember to buy a ticket at the booth before boarding and then validate the ticket on the transport.
You can buy one day or three-day BusPlus Cards which allows you unlimited travel and which are a great choice for tourists on a short break.
Taxis are plentiful, but be careful when using them and ensure that they turn on the meter to calculate the appropriate fare. Compared to western European capitals, taxis in Belgrade are very much good value.
What to expect in Belgrade
Belgrade is an intriguing and interesting city to visit, but for those not accustomed to the Cyrillic alphabet, it can be a struggle to get around but not impossible. Most signage is in Cyrillic, as this is the official script of the Serbian language, which is closely related to neighboring languages such as Croatian and Bosnian.
If you can, try and learn the alphabet beforehand or even while you are visiting. It might look daunting at first, but a lot of characters are very similar to the Latin alphabet and once you’ve picked it up it will allow you to understand a lot more of what’s going on in the city.
English speakers can be hard to come by in the city but it is slowly becoming a popular second language to learn, especially for the younger generation.
The local currency is the Serbian Dinar. You will find plenty of ATMs in the city, and most will accept foreign cards. If exchanging money make sure you shop around for the best rates in the city center.
The aftermath of the wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s still has far-reaching implications across Serbia, particularly when it comes to the question of Kosovo, so be careful if talking about political or sensitive events to locals.
The best time to visit Belgrade
As a city break destination, Belgrade can be visited all year round, however, at different times of the year you will find completely different atmospheres in the city.
Most of the best Belgrade must see sights can be visited year round, particularly museums and similar attractions, but if you want to enjoy the summer festivals and the lively lakeside scenes, then you have to visit in the hotter months of the year.
Winter can be bitterly cold, but this time of year is also a chance to enjoy cozy indoor restaurants and bars while in January you can enjoy the delights of an Orthodox Christmas.
Things to do in Belgrade
Knez Mihaailova – or Mikhailov Street, in English – is the main thoroughfare in the city center. This is really the heart of Belgrade and it’s one of the oldest and most historic streets in the city, but surprisingly, also one of the most modern.
This is where you can come to shop and to find great restaurants while the great number of bars here makes a trip to Mikhailov Street one of the best things to do in Belgrade at night.
The Avala Tower is the tallest tower in not only Belgrade but across much of the Balkans, and it offers visitors unparalleled views over the surrounding area.
It’s found on a hill on the outskirts of the city, and the current tower is actually a reconstruction of the original that was destroyed by NATO during the Balkan conflicts.
It’s a great place to spend the day, as the newly opened tourism center here offers many great activities.
Ada Ciganlija is a reclaimed island on the River Sava that offers locals and visitors a huge recreation area to enjoy.
There are beaches, bars, and swimming areas and in summer it’s one of the best areas to visit in Belgrade.
Places to visit in Belgrade
Nikola Tesla Museum
One of Belgrade’s most famous past citizens was Nikola Tesla, and in the city you can visit the Nikola Tesla Museum that’s dedicated to his life and to his science.
Belgrade Fortress – also known as Kalemegdan Fortress – is a great historical area in the city that has long held dominion over the area.
Walk the walls and the ramparts before strolling through the adjacent Kalemegdan Park.
Josip Broz Tito Mausoleum
The Josip Broz Tito Mausoleum is the final resting place of the Yugolsvan dictator Broz Tito. It’s an eery place, but for anyone with an interest in communism it’s a must visit to see the legacy of Josip Broz himself.
The Sava Temple, or the Church of Saint Sava, is a prominent Orthodox Church in the capital. It’s an enormous place of worship and the grand scale of the church has to really be seen to be believed.
The National Assembly is Serbia’s main seat of government, where decisions are debated and action is taken.
It’s an incredibly elegant building and one that was formerly the seat of Yugoslavian power, before Serbian.
National Museum of Serbia
The National Museum of Serbia is the best place in Belgrade to visit to learn more about the country’s long and at times divisive history.
The museum itself is over 150 years old and today it charts the long history of a region that has frequently been conflicted and troubled.
What to eat in Belgrade
Serbian cuisine is very much a product of the multicultural influences of Serbian history and you can find similar dishes as you would across the Balkans and Turkey.
A lot of the food is meat heavy, with bread on the side, while in terms of drinks you can always be sure to be offered a glass of local, alcoholic Rakia to wash the meal down with.
A Burek is a long piece of pastry that’s filled with innumerable different ingredients. This is one of the most popular snacks in the Balkans and you will find this anywhere in Belgrade.
The best bakeries are the small, local affairs, and you can buy a a great burek for just a few cents. You can get meat, veg and cheese fillings, or a combination of all three.
Goulash is ubiquitous across Eastern Europe, and in Serbia, it’s a firm favorite too. This hearty stew is the perfect remedy for a cold day and accompanied with a hunk of bread and a shot of Rakia it will keep you warm through the coldest of winters.
Cevapi is a simple dish of that consists of mincemeat that’s been skewered and grilled over hot coals.
It’s essentially a kebab, but with local spices and flavorings and served up with a piece of flatbread and some onions to garnish, it becomes a great delicacy.
Where to stay in Belgrade
Belgrade has an ever-growing selection of quality accommodation, from budget hostels to upmarket international chains. Here are a few of the best places to stay in Belgrade.
Hostel Home Sweet Home – This budget hostel is one of the best in Belgrade, and it offers guests the chance to enjoy a homely atmosphere and friendly company while staying in the city.
Hilton Belgrade – The Hilton is an uncompromising option for those looking for high standards during their stay in Belgrade. This modern, plush hotel is found in the center of the city and offers everything you might need.
Hyatt Regency Belgrade – The Hyatt Regency is a world-renowned hotel chain that never fails to deliver on quality. Although it’s expensive – especially by Belgrade standards – it’s the only choice in the city for those looking for the best quality and service.
Tours to do in Belgrade
One of the best ways to experience Belgrade is on foot. Much of the city center is very much walkable, and there are some excellent strolls to be had along the river.
Take a walking tour to learn more about the city’s unique history while you enjoy the scenery and the fresh air. There are even tip-based walking tours, which can be one of the best free things to do in Belgrade.
The city is still inseparable from the legacy of its communist past, and one of the best Belgrade things to do is to take one of the many dedicated tours of the important socialist sights, including all those linked to the dictator himself, Josep Broz.
If you tire of Belgrade sightseeing above ground, then why not shake things up and head underground instead?
It’s one of the weird things to do in Belgrade, but the city has a huge network of underground tunnels that date back through the centuries and many tour companies now offer trips into this surreal subterranean world.
Day trips from Belgrade
Timisoara is located just two hours away from Belgrade in western Romania, and a cross-border excursion makes for a great day trip.
This is one of the largest and liveliest cities in Romania and you can spend the day comparing cultures and exploring the unique history.
Novi Sad is a Serbian city found an hour to the north of Belgrade on the banks of the Danube. This is the nation’s second city, and it’s an interesting contrast to the capital.
Here you can find old fortresses to explore, and in summer, some great stretches of beach along the river.
Nis is Serbia’s third largest city and the center of life in the south of the country. Nis is one of the most historic cities in Europe and can trace its roots far back to ancient Greek and Roman times.
Spend the day exploring museums and archeological sites on a day trip from Belgrade.
Recommend budget tours in Belgrade
- Northern Serbia, Sremski Karlovci, and Novi Sad Full-Day Tour from Belgrade
- Full-Day Eastern Serbia Monasteries and Resava Cave Tour from Belgrade
- Belgrade Big Tour: Top Attractions and Belgrade Neighborhoods
- Belgrade Sightseeing Half-Day Trip Old and New Belgrade
- Novi Sad and Sremski Karlovci Day Trip from Belgrade
- Private Tour to “Little Europe”: A Day Trip to Northern Serbia and Novi Sad
- Private Day Trip To Budapest From Belgrade
- Belgrade Center Walking Tour
- Off the Beaten Track: Belgrade Street Art Experience
- Belgrade Underground and Fortresess Dungeons Walking Tour
- BEERgrade Pub Crawl Tour
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